Reading Roots: Kristen from We Be Reading

Posted weekly on Tuesdays, Reading Roots features a variety of book bloggers talking about their early reading influences and experiences, letting us catch a glimpse of the “roots” that each person has built upon in forming their identity as “a reader”.

Today, I’m interviewing Kristen from We Be Reading. Let’s explore her reading roots!

What is your earliest memory involving books or reading? How were books, reading, and literacy approached in your childhood home? Were your parents or other family members “readers”?

My earliest memories of books are my childhood trips to the local library. We didn’t have the money to have very many books in the house so my mom took us almost every week and I checked out just about every book that I was interested in — many of them more than once. I remember walking down the long aisles and being amazed by how many choices there were. I also remember that my great aunt gave us beautiful books every year at Christmas.

My mom was a reader even though she had very little free time so she would get the Readers’ Digest Condensed book series and there were always stacks of them by her bed. My dad wasn’t much of a reader when I was a child but he always was very supportive of our reading habits. My mom let me read anything that I wanted to and even introduced me to some of my all time favorites (like Jane Eyre and Gone With the Wind).

Did you enjoy language arts/English classes as a kid, or were you more of a reluctant reader? When did you first consider yourself “a reader”?

I taught myself to read when I was two or three years old when my brother was born and my mom had less time to read to me. So, I have been a reader even longer than I can remember! I was never too fond of English classes though because I liked to read for fun and didn’t like the work of analyzing a book or story when I was done with it — which is quite funny to think of now that I write about every book I read! But you will see in my blog posts that I write mainly about how a book makes me feel and less about the literary qualities of it.

Did you have any interesting reading habits when you were growing up? Do you still have them now?

I tend to get quite caught up in books though and have been known to read a good story through the night. My mom would sometimes find me hours after my bedtime reading by the light coming through the bedroom window and I can remember reading by night-light many times. Luckily I’m allowed to keep the light on now and I certainly stay up far later than I was able to as a child. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to set a good book down at a proper bedtime!

Where was your favourite spot to read as a kid? Are there any books you distinctly remember from your childhood? Why?

I always liked to read on my bed and sometimes under my bed when I really didn’t want to be disturbed. I most remember two book series that I read over and over as a child — The Wizard of Oz and Raggedy Ann and Andy. They were both set in wonderful worlds and were full of new words and ideas. My favorite word — grotto — comes from one of the Raggedy Ann stories (Raggedy Ann in Cookie Land).

How have your reading tastes developed from childhood until now? What were the phases that you went through along the way?

I actually tend to read the same sorts of books that I read as a child — fantasy, historical fiction, mysteries and classic literature. When I was a kid it was Alice in Wonderland and Nancy Drew and The Wind in the Willows and now it’s Jasper Fforde and Agatha Christie and Charles Dickens but I get the same things out of them as I did when I was young. I sometimes dabble in other types of stories but always come back to these favorite genres.

Bonus Literacy Question: If you have children, how did you encourage them (or how are you encouraging them) to become readers? If you do not have children of your own, what do you think is the most important thing to focus on in order to promote reading in the coming generations?

My son is almost seven and he has the luxury of overflowing home bookshelves that I didn’t have. We don’t have any restrictions on buying books in our house either. We get them as gifts but they are not special purchases. We can get them any time we are in the mood for a new story. We also go to the library two or three times a month, read together as often as possible and sometimes make up activities based on the stories we read. He also taught himself to read by the time he turned three so our biggest challenge has just been keeping up with his interests and finding the right books to keep him challenged and entertained.

I hope you enjoyed learning about Kristen as much as I did! If you haven’t read her blog before, I suggest that you go take a look.

See you next week for a look into the “roots” of another fantastic blogger!

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